When the theme of this month's We Should Cocoa challenge was set, by Katie at Recipe for Perfection, to be brownies, I thought I'd better rise to the occasion and do something out of the ordinary. I wanted something which would both look and taste different to a plain brownie. Don't get me wrong - there's not much that can beat the best dense, fudgy, rich, sweet, chocolate-laden brownie for flavour, but if you've made and photographed as many brown squares as I have over the years, you want to make something which will stand out in a baking challenge.
And nothing stands out as much as something green, when it comes to cake! Blue and green are supposed to be the worst food colours to use, to persuade people to eat something, particularly if the food is unfamiliar, or it's an unexpected colour to be used in that context. Whereas green used to suggest only mint flavour, today it's just as likely to be green tea (matcha) providing the flavour, as with these brownies.
Once I'd decided to use green tea, which pairs very well with dark chocolate, it was difficult to decide on what other flavour to add, if any. I like citrus flavours with green tea, but not in brownies, and ginger might have worked well, but my last cake was a ginger cake. I think I must dream about food, even if I don't remember these dreams, because I woke up one morning thinking of coconut. I hadn't a clue whether the two flavours would work well together, but it seemed worth the risk! To make the green tea stand out against the dark chocolate, it became clear that adding both it and the coconut to a cream cheese swirl was the best way forward.
I used the coconut cream cheese swirl from this recipe, adding a tablespoon of matcha powder. The amount of add depends on the strength of the matcha used - mine doesn't seem especially strong, from previous experience. (I used a 200g pack of full-fat cream cheese and 40g desiccated coconut as a conversion of 1/2 cup.) I decided to adapt my favourite brownie recipe, an 'old-faithful' that I've been using for more than 10 years, although it's hardly recognisable in this form. I made 2/3 of a batch and decided the time was right to try reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe, from 400g to 300g. I used coconut oil instead of butter, and also decided that 2 eggs plus an egg white was a near enough equivalent of 2/3 of 4 eggs (to avoid waste)!
Ingredients - cream cheese layer
200g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
50g caster sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
40g desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon matcha (green tea powder)
- brownie layer
140g coconut oil
140g 70% plain chocolate
300g light muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus one egg white
160g plain flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
Line a 20cm (8") square baking tray, with baking parchment and pre-heat oven to 180C.
In a medium bowl, beat together all the ingredients for the cream cheese swirl, until smooth.
Put the coconut oil and chocolate into a large bowl, and melt together over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and add the sugar and vanilla, stirring until well mixed and smooth.
Beat in the whole eggs and the egg white, one at a time.
Sift in the flour and cocoa and fold in.
Spread 3/4 of the brownie batter into the prepared tin, then top with the cream cheese mixture, which should spread almost to the edges of the tin. Put blobs (7-9) of the remaining brownie batter over the surface, then use the end of a teaspoon, or something similar to swirl the batter into the cream cheese layer below.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until an inserted probe comes out with just a few damp crumbs sticking to it. Cool in the tin, then cut into 16 pieces.
I think these brownies were a great success; they looked attractive, without the green colour being too lurid and off-putting, and the sweet coconut and cream cheese balanced out the sometimes bitter edge of the matcha flavour well. The brownies were dense and fudgy, with a slight taste of coconut from the oil.
We Should Cocoa (rules here) is a chocolate baking challenge started by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog. She shares her hosting duties with other chocolate-loving bloggers, and this month has handed over to Katie, at Recipe for Perfection, who has chose brownies as the theme, and will post a round-up of entries at the end of the month.